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Arabic Translation at the End of Imperial Spain (1714-1814)

November 21, 2019
6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Casa Hispánica

Speaker: Claire Gilbert (Department of History, Saint Louis University)

Respondent: Ardeta Gjikola (Society of Fellows in the Humanities)

Moderators: Pier Mattia Tommasino (Italian, Columbia) and Seth Kimmel (LAIC, Columbia)

This paper studies how scholars and politicians of the Ilustración relied on medieval precedents in Spanish Arabism for philological and political projects. Those precedents were related to the politics of belonging and exclusion which shaped early modern Spanish society. Their memory and use into the eighteenth century affected the new attitudes of Spanish foreign policy with Arabic speakers across the Mediterranean. Departing from the example of the Hieronymite friar, Escorial Arabic professor, and administrator in Spanish Tangier, Patricio de la Torre (1760–1814), Gilbert explores policies of memory and adaptation of the linguistic technologies and ideologies of the late “Reconquista” in Spain’s colonial agenda in Morocco, particularly through Torre’s adaptation of the works of Pedro de Alcalá (1505-1506). Indeed, the drive to “reduce” the common language of the ally or enemy was just as vital in the 1790s for Spanish ministers looking to Morocco as those in the 1490s looking to Granada. In each of these contexts, and throughout the period between, translators and philologists provided the linguistic knowledge with which to rule across boundaries and conduct international relations.  

Sponsors: Department of Italian, European Institute, and Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures

To attend email: pmt2114@columbia.edu. Part of the Italian and Mediterranean Colloquium series.